Cancer Research at Bath (CRAB)

Newest developments in cancer research in and around Bath

Cancer Research Internship

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Thank you to everyone who came along to our stall at Refreshers Fayre! It was amazing to see so much interest in helping out at future events. Hope you guys found it informative. Congratulations to Rebecca Lewis and Emma Garland who won the jar of jelly babies and CR@B t-shirts! The correct answer was 72.

Refreshers Fayre - four volunteers

Constanza, Lizzie, Emma and Nuria at the Refreshers Fayre

This week, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about my experience at Cambridge, where I was involved in cancer research first hand.

I started at the beginning of summer, a week after we broke up from Bath. I moved straight into halls at Downing College - just a 5-minute walk from where I was working at the Department of Biochemistry in the TLB lab. Cambridge is such a beautiful city, and I’d recommend visiting if you haven’t before!

I was working with Dr Qian Wu (my supervisor), on her project investigating the recruitment of the BRCA1 protein to DNA damage sites, where it helps to maintain genomic stability.  BRCA1 mutations (which are found in patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer) can increase a women’s risk of developing breast cancer from a 12.5% lifetime risk to 55-75% before the age of 70. Patients with these mutations often have a double mastectomy (like the famous case of Angelina Jolie) to reduce their risk. By further understanding the mechanism of recruitment and function of BRCA1, the design of potential treatments for these cancers can be aided.

Our paper was published last month in Molecular Cell.

I was really lucky with the people I worked with. The entire lab were so welcoming and friendly and I still stay in contact with many of them. I learnt so much in just two months thanks to my very patient supervisor and my incredible PI (Professor Sir Tom Blundell), who despite his extremely busy schedule made the time to discuss my progress every single week.

Emma Bunting in Cambridge Lab

Emma Bunting in Cambridge Lab

If you can ever get involved in helping out with research of any kind, take every opportunity you can. Personally, it inspired me to spend my placement year doing academic research, and to get more involved with Cancer Research at Bath. For this I’ll be forever thankful to the TLB lab! Unfortunately, internship positions for 2016 have already been filled. However, if you are interested in applying for Summer 2017, contact Sir Tom (tom@cryst.bioc.cam.ac.uk) by November 2016.

Our university is also investigating breast cancer. Our researchers are involved in a team of scientists that have recently shown DNA previously considered to be "Junk" may play a role in preventing the disease. Cancer Research at Bath (CR@B) has several specialists in cancer research, including Dr Adele Murrell, Dr Julie Turner-Cobb, and Dr James Turner. .

 

12th CR@B symposium

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On the 11th of November 2015, CR@B held its 12th symposium at the University of Bath. As usual, it attracted a range of speakers from both within and outside of the university, as well as a large audience of people all interested in learning more about cancer research. The programme can be found here.

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12th CR@B Symposium

The first speaker, Professor Diana Eccles of the University of Southampton, gave a presentation on personalised medicine used in breast cancer. The goal of the research is to identify genetic differences that can increase susceptibility to developing breast cancer to give patients a more informed choice of treatment options.

Dr Dorothy Goddard and Dr Mark Beresford of the Royal United Hospital then gave a presentation on the use of genomics in cancer research. Genomics is the study of the genes that make us who we are, and one of the goals of this is to identify the genes that make people more susceptible to developing cancer. If we know which genes are more likely to be of concern, we can identify people who are at risk sooner and therefore act sooner if they do develop cancer. The Royal United Hospital in Bath is involved in the West of England Genomics Partnership, a group aiming to bring the research forward as part of the national 100,000 Genomes project.

Dr Michael Harris, GP and visiting lecturer at the University of Bath, spoke about the influence of primary care (GPs and pharmacists) on speed of diagnosis of cancer. It has been found that survival rates 1 year after diagnosis in the UK are lower than the European average. To find out more about why this is happening, the Örenäs Research Group was founded to explore the differences between healthcare systems across Europe. One of the ongoing studies by the group is into what GPs in each country would say to a patient with specific symptoms. If the differences between different primary care systems are identified, it may be possible to find out exactly what makes the 1 year survival of cancer different across Europe.

Cr@B Symposium 2

Dr Matthew Lloyd presenting his newest research

One of the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology's senior lecturers, Dr Matthew Lloyd, was next to give a presentation. He spoke about his research into new drugs for treatment of prostate cancer. The new drugs are identified using high-throughput screening, a process that allows a lot of different compounds to be tested for suitability as a drug. These drugs are targeting a protein called AMACR, which is known to be increased in prostate cancer. If a drug can be found to reduce the activity of AMACR, it may be possible to prevent progression of the cancer.

Building on this, Dr Lloyd's PhD student Guat Ling Lee spoke about her work in identifying which amino acids are most important to the function of the protein AMACR. Knowledge of this will further help in the development of treatments for prostate cancer.

Finally, Kunal Tewari gave a presentation on his work as a PhD student in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. His research focusses on the production of new drugs based on 5-aminolaevulinic acid for use in photodynamic therapy.

Overall, this was another fantastic symposium and a great opportunity for staff and students at the university, as well as the wider network consisting of a huge variety of professionals, to learn more about current cancer research. The networking offered as part of this will continue to expand the research among CR@B members, with more fascinating presentations to come in future.

The 13th CR@B symposium will be held at the University of Bath on Wednesday 27th of April 2016. The event is free to attend and registration is now open.

 

About us

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Cancer Research at Bath (CR@B) is a unique network between the University and the NHS Royal United Hospital Trust. Our mission is to facilitate interaction between departments and institutes, multidisciplinary research and provide excellent opportunities for training for its members. It is also our mission to interact with fundraisers and industry, and generally raise awareness of all aspects of cancer.

This blog aims to demonstrate research activities in CR@B, promote cancer research in and around Bath, and raise cancer research awareness both on campus and in the local community.

 

Meet the Student Volunteer Communicators

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We are very excited to welcome four Student Volunteer Communicators (SVC) to join the CR@B team. They are

Emma Bunting      Emma Bunting

I’m Emma, a second year Natural Scientist majoring in Biochemistry. I’m hoping to go to the States next year on placement, in either the neuroscience or cancer research field. I’ve always been interested in cancer research, but my involvement really took off after a summer internship at Cambridge researching the BRCA1 protein (linked with Breast Cancer).

Ellie Childs Ellie Childs CR@B

I'm Ellie, a second year undergraduate studying Biochemistry. Although I have been interested in cancer research for several years now, my interest was particularly piqued this year after taking a unit on cancer biology, and hope to go on an industrial placement in a lab in the field next year.

Alexander Davies Alex Davies

I'm Alex, a 4th year Pharmacy student at the university and will be going to do my pre-registration year with Boots in London after graduation. I became interested in cancer research shortly after starting at university, and have a particular interest in the development of new drugs.